Sunday, 15 May 2011

Derby Photographers: Diana Studios, 1928-1952

Since I am currently updating the profile of Derby photographic firm, the Diana Studio, I'm taking the opportunity to share three new portraits here.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

This cheeky looking girl, perhaps five years old, has no difficulty playing the part of a gypsy girl in this early portrait from Diana Studios. The studio setting is simple with a shaggy rectangular rug on the floor, and a dark backdrop painted with a rural scene which was used by the studio in their early years. The girl with her striking pose and costume are clearly the centre of attraction. I estimate it was taken between 1929 and 1932.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

The Diana Studios' first postcard portraits were pre-printed with a "divided back" design on the reverse, so that they could be sent through the post. Even though they continued producing postcard sized portraits, they soon changed the design in favour of a simple studio stamp which was applied directly to the back of the printed photo, as shown above. The firm operated from at least early 1928, at centrally situated premises in St Peter's Street, Derby. An early portrait describes the studio at 45 St Peter's Street, situated "over the Carlton Shoe Shop," but later designs are from 48 St Peter's Street, which appears to be on the opposite (east) side of the street.

Image © and courtesy of Patricia Hurworth

Patricia Hurworth sent me these two portraits of herself by Diana Studios which are clearly a cut above the standard postcard style. Not only has the portrait been enlarged - to a size of 117.5 x 164.5 mm - but it has been quite elaborately hand coloured.

Image © and courtesy of Patricia Hurworth

They were taken in 1945 or 1946, and the second which is roughly trimmed and remains uncoloured, may have been a studio discard. Both feature the painted backdrop showing a column and painted panelling which used in the Diana studio in the late 1930s and early to mid-1940s. The studio apparently continued operating until 1952.

Many thanks to Pat and others for their contributions.

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